This won’t surprise anyone in education, but class size matters. It matters a lot. The bigger the class, the harder it is to meet the individual needs of the learners in our classrooms.
As I began to pilot NEW School this year, my goals were to:
- provide students with individualized learning paths
- make time for conversations about where students are at in their learning
- engage students in meaningful project-based learning
- provide real-time feedback on student work
I realize now that the number one hurdle I face in successfully accomplishing these goals is the sheer number of students I see on a daily basis. There is only so much time in a day and large class sizes make connecting with individual students challenging. My co-teacher and I use blended learning models to create more opportunities to connect with students in person and online; however, it’s still a daily challenge to meet all of my students’ needs and attempt to tailor learning for individual students.
Piloting this program has been a real eye opener about why it’s so challenging to execute innovative, outside of the box programs at traditional high schools where teachers juggle large numbers of students. Although smaller class sizes require a significant financial investment, I believe it’s necessary if teachers are going to be truly effective in shifting from the status quo to more innovative approaches to teaching and learning.